From keeping a set schedule to performing yoga, how students can beat COVID-19 stress
In India, where the economy had slowed and jobs were dwindled for the past couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived for graduating students like a cyclone. It is tossing around their lives, careers plans, and mental health. Alongside the stress that comes with becoming an adult, students now have to deal with wrecked plans and new uncertainties.
First, with the country in a lockdown and the economy failing, companies are firing employees to survive. Students are having to work twice as hard to get jobs, and even more to get ones that pay. Although work-from-home internships help, they provide no experience of how the working world outside functions.
For a young psychologist, for instance, therapy that is usually conducted face-to-face to build trust between the therapist and the client is now conducted through a screen.
Second, students have no clear sight on when and how final examinations will take place. While some colleges are cancelling examinations and giving out grades based on average marks, some are opting for online tests. The rest are undecided. This makes it impossible for students to make plans, let alone long-term ones.
The other grave concern is the final-year mark sheet. Without it, a student cannot make decisions regarding university applications and acceptance letters. While universities abroad are deciding to hold on-campus and online classes, students need to furnish the final marksheet to decide whether they will attend this year or ask for a deferral. There is growing tension between universities pressing for submission of mark sheets and students who are unable to provide them.
Getting a visa is another major hurdle between students and their dream college. Colleges and universities in India have continued with the admissions procedure online, making changes to adapt to the current turmoil. Most admission tests were completed before the lockdown while interviews and discussions were conducted online.
Career and education are a crucial and sensitive part of life. Uncertainties and rapid changes in plans can lead to serious mental health issues and deep frustrations. To deal with a rampaging pandemic, a new normal must be reached.
Even though it feels like our lives are out of control, one must try to focus on what we can take control of. A fresh outlook on one’s life and priorities can help one regain composure. Patience is most important as changes and decisions will take time. Being in a rush can lead to disappointments and affect one’s mental health.
It is important to come to terms with the fact that everyone is in a similar situation. Even though people are losing jobs, there are internet-based companies, blogs, NGOs and social media pages looking for help. One can broaden one’s search and explore new avenues. People will be more willing to accommodate delays and off-the-beaten-track decisions now.
In the new normal, the internet is your best friend. One can learn something new or explore one’s hobbies which lack of time didn’t allow for previously. Online certifications add to the resume immensely while making one feel productive. Instead of worrying, one can work towards building skills that will help in the future.
We never had time for introspection and learning about the self. Now, one can set aside that time for oneself away from social media and family. When feeling stressed, one can meditate, perform yoga, or listen to one’s favourite music. Being positive is important, otherwise it can affect everyone around besides oneself.
Keeping a schedule always helps. We are used to having one set externally, dictated by where we have to be at any given time. Now this has to be done by oneself. Set aside time for work and time for leisure and stick to the rules you set even for the smallest of tasks.
Something as profoundly life-altering as COVID-19 requires equanimity, innovation, and introspection. And the ability to look at crisis as opportunity.
The author is a student at Sophia College for Women, Mumbai